To the average individual who has never had the wonderful opportunity to become involved in the Elmhurst Little League, one would assume it is just what the name implies, a little group of little boys and girls playing an unorganized game of baseball on a Saturday afternoon.
That, my friends, is hardly a true picture of Elmhurst Little League from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Our Elmhurst Little League is a vast culmination of 300 or more highly trained disciplined young individuals, with dedicated, hard working volunteer coaches, including Guiding League Officers, referee personnel, devoted parents, and, most importantly sponsors who donate their hard earned dollars to support the entire operation. This span of individuals I could go on and on about, describing those who are pulled into Little League through their sons and daughters, or by sheer supportive interest, and create the beehive of worthwhile activities developing hundreds of youth into cooperative active players. And further, I am sure you could never know the countless hours of time spent selling popcorn and drinks, ordering supplies, maintaining equipment, seeding the fields, and on and on, involving hours of time spent by such beautiful dedicated parents and supporters backing children in this beloved sport.
I write this because I happen to have been one such parent with a son involved. At age 8, his super thrill of being a member was still in the making, although he had already been picked for the “Major Team” in our area.
My son hardly got home from school all winded and excited like a hungry lion in a cage. I doubt very much if he even tasted any of the evening meal as he pushed his father and me to hurry up and get ready to go. There seemed an electric bulb, like a glow in his eyes, and I didn’t even have to turn on the shower or comb his hair. One hour before we needed to leave, he was ready at the door. This is where parents require an extra amount of instant recall to the memories of that first exciting moment way back when, and a triple portion of patience. I stalled so we wouldn’t be too early and have to sit down to supper with the coach and his family. Finally, I couldn’t contain him any longer, so we left.
His initial thrill was coming, as that evening was his first meeting of the team and families. At his coach’s home, all the team members were to receive their uniforms and hats for the upcoming season.
The coach’s home was of a brilliance of warmth and friendliness, though rather small in size, that grew even more evident as the team and their parents began to arrive. No one could mistake who was who as the room filled. Immediately the players began to separate and I soon realized the separation was unquestionably the new players on one side trying to suppress their combination of excitement and shyness while the other side projected boys with the “old timer” appearance.
I secretly appreciated the fact that even though our son was a rookie, he stood a head and a half taller than all the other boys he stood with. I think he realized this too as I glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw him straighten up his back, oversee the group, and then place his hands in his pockets with an air of confidence. He leaned against the wall and shot a quick glance toward his father and me. We winked and acknowledged a common agreement that everything was going to be fine.
Thank goodness the coach was a prompt man as the noise level was beginning to become overpowering. It didn’t take long before introductions, with highs and lows of acknowledgement by players and parents, were made.
After a well-organized instruction period, the final and most coveted moment arrived. The uniforms and caps were distributed. One final instruction came forth that I found might set to a test a boy’s total determination. THE BASEBALL CAP COULD NOT BE WORN OUTSIDE THE HOUSE UNTIL OPENING DAY, WHICH WAS ONE MONTH AWAY! Our son shot another quick glance my way as if hoping I might not have heard or maybe an exception could be made. I winked back understandingly, but firmly. We had heard, and he had heard, and a month was an awfully long time…
I don’t have to tell you that upon arriving home he had to try the entire baseball outfit on again just to make sure everything fit. He pranced back and forth, stretching in what seemed baseball positions with visible satisfaction that it felt super. I helped him hang it up finally and we stuffed a bath towel in his cap to keep its beautiful shape. He placed it in an emptied drawer so it would stay clean. And that was that, so I thought. I went about the evening’s preparations and finally made my way to his room for a final good night kiss. There in his bed with the covers carefully up to his face he laid with his cap on. And this was the beginning of a “love this cap” he displayed for one month.
May I further enlighten you that another special treasure of my many memories of Little League and my son is that for one month, he sat by his dresser each evening and tried on that certain cap and then, very carefully returned it to the drawer until bedtime. Needless to say, I inwardly became warmly aware that I was ever so proud of my son for I could feel he was growing up very quickly.
Our evaluation of participation in the Elmhurst Little League for so many seasons was unquestionably demonstrated to me and countless other parents by the valuable influence it had rendered to our children. It resulted in so many warm memories of new friends and most of all watching our son and his teammates mature into the fine young youth that they are today because of Little League baseball.
Our son went on to play at Elmhurst and received a scholarship to college as a result of his experience.
So I say with great enthusiasm, God Bless the Elmhurst Little League.
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